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Posts Tagged ‘religion’

Simple Choices

March 27th, 2015

“If anyone would come after Me, he must . . follow Me.” Mark 8:34 NIV.

Religion is complicated; spirituality is simple.

My thoughts and comments today are about “simple choices.”

A healthy, robust spiritual life is possible for you. Certainly, that requires intention, attention, and priority. Spiritual life is not for the casual soul; it is achieved purposefully. Spirituality is not as difficult as some people often make it out to be. Some assume, or have been wrongly taught, that spiritual life is about religious rules, regulations to learn, duties to perform, strict laws to obey, or religious protocols to be observed.

Religion is complicated; spirituality is simple. The prophet, Isaiah, described the simplicity of spirituality for the sincere seeker, “Whoever walks the road [called the Highway of Holiness], although a fool, shall not go astray.” Isaiah 35:8. It is not about your intelligence; it is about your obedience.

In the New Testament, people frequently asked to be Jesus’ disciple. On other occasions, Jesus invited people to be His disciples. Either way the choice remained theirs to make, just like your invitation to be His disciple is always yours to accept or decline. Following Jesus’ baptism by John, Jesus began calling for men to be His disciples. Some readily did so; others reluctantly declined.

Jesus’ invitation was simple; still is. “’Come, follow Me,’ Jesus said.” Read Mark 1:16-20 NIV. Their response to His invitation was immediate. “At once they left their nets and followed Him.” In Jesus’ company, less and less of your old life compares with the new life you receive. Read Psalm 16:11/2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV. Godly choices aren’t simple to make; they are simple when made.

Jesus wrapped profound and eternal truth in everyday stories, comparing one’s discovery of the Kingdom with a man finding buried treasure in a field and a merchant finding an incomparable pearl, and both selling all they had to possess what they once never imagined could be theirs. Read Matthew 13:44-46 NIV. When you follow Jesus, He gives you a life beyond all you could previously imagine or hope to obtain. See Romans 15:5-6 NIV. Jesus alone is the answer to every question and fulfillment of each desire.

If you are following Jesus, your life can be an example and encouragement to others who want to follow Him, as Paul encouraged the Christians at Corinth, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 11:1 NIV. Seeing a practical model of someone who is faithfully following Jesus helps tremendously. I am thankful for every Godly friend and spiritual mentor – Kenny, Campbell, Des, Don, Andrew, Rick, too many more to name really – who provided me with living examples and personal encouragement of being a Christ-follower. I continue to learn how to follow Jesus by watching them follow Him.

Jesus wrapped profound and eternal truth in everyday stories, comparing one’s discovery of the Kingdom with a man finding buried treasure in a field and a merchant finding an incomparable pearl, and both selling all they had to possess what they once never imagined could be theirs. Read Matthew 13:44-46 NIV. When you follow Jesus, He gives you a life beyond all you could previously imagine or hope to obtain. Jesus alone is the answer to every question and the fulfillment of every desire.

Yes, there are sacrifices to make; there are things to abandon; there are new loyalties and a cross to embrace. “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me and for the Gospel will save it.” Read Mark 8:34-38 NIV.

If you are following Jesus with a whole heart, He has much more ahead for you than what you ever leave behind. At the heart of spiritual life is your response to Jesus’ simple invitation to follow Him. “Seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Read Matthew 6:31-33 NIV.

Today, my prayer for you is, “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 15:5-6 NIV.

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Relationship Is Important

September 7th, 2009

“A rich relationship with God.” Luke 12:21 NLT

“A right relationship is the entry point for a rich relationship, both life-long and eternal.”

My thoughts today are that “relationship is important.”

Relationships are important. The best of life is empty without them. You can seem to have everything, but if you lack mutual and meaningful relationships what you have will never be enough. The best of good things can never substitute for a good family and friends. That’s where a true richness of life can be found.

It is easy to be occupied with what you think God wants from you, and offer Him many good and worthwhile things. All the while, you could fail to give God the one thing that He most wants from you – yourself! The reality is that God is not dependent on you and I for anything that He cannot readily and abundantly provide for Himself. Except for one thing that only you can give Him, your love and your life. See Romans 12:1-2 NIV. Your life is a gift from God; what you do with your life is your gift to God.

God most wants from you, and wants most for you, is a rich relationship with Him – an experience of closeness that is fulfilling and life affirming. Reading the entirety of today’s verse addresses the absence of that kind of relationship, “A person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.” Luke 12:21 NLT.

Make no mistake; Jesus is not speaking against wealth. He is warning against the folly of thinking that wealth could ever be enough without a rich, personal relationship with God. This warning is not about just wealth; it is about anything or anyone that you accept as a substitute for the one relationship that you cannot be without.

“Tell those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which will soon be gone. But their trust should be in the living God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment . . they should be rich in good works . . by doing this they will be storing up treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may take hold of real life.” 1 Timothy 6:17-19 NLT.

Life is about relationship. Your spiritual life is not about religion; it is also all about relationship – a righteous relationship with God and right relatedness with others. Jesus’ sacrifice was to reconcile you to God. Read 2 Corinthians 5:18-19 NIV. Offering you a right relationship is the entry point for a rich relationship with God that is both life-long and eternal.

What would you think that such a relationship with God would look like for you? What do you think would be required for you to have such a relationship with God? I would suggest to you that a rich relationship with God would be mutual, authentic, practical, loving, continually transforming, and growing.

My prayer for you today is: know God in a way that transforms who you are and shapes what you do.

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